Eminem is opening up about his surprise Oscars performance Sunday night, which came 17 years after he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for 8 Mile‘s anthem “Lose Yourself.”

The moment was notable because the rapper wasn’t on hand at the ceremony in 2003 to accept the award or perform the song, but when the opportunity to hit the Oscars’ stage this year came up, he decided to take advantage.

“I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool. Back then, I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed ‘Lose Yourself’ on the Grammys with the Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn’t think it was a good idea,” he said in a new interview with Variety, adding, “And also, back at that time, the younger me didn’t really feel like a show like that would understand me.”

Ceremony - 92nd Academy Awards, Hollywood, USA - 09 Feb 2020
Credit: ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

He told the outlet that he also remembers being “confused” about why he was up for the Oscar in the first place, and was shocked that he had won, but wasn’t necessarily disappointed that he wasn’t at the ceremony. As for what he was doing instead? The rapper recalled being at home. “I think I was just at home with my daughter — and I didn’t watch it, either. At that point in time Hailie had to be at school early in the morning, so [I was sleeping],” he said.

The “Lose Yourself” performance on Sunday was one of the best-kept secrets of the night, but it all came together very smoothly and quickly. Apparently, 8 Mile was already supposed to be in one of the montages during the Oscars, and the show’s producers asked the rapper if he wanted to be involved and he agreed, in part because the timing worked out well with the recent surprise release of his latest album, Music to Be Murdered By.

In order to keep the performance a surprise, he and the musicians involved rehearsed just “four or five times,” mostly offsite. As for why it had to be kept a secret? “I don’t know, I think it was either [the Oscars’] idea or [longtime manager Paul Rosenberg] and [his publicist Dennis Dennehy’s] idea before they brought it to me. It was presented to me that way and I said, ‘Oh that’s kinda dope, to not even announce it,'” he said.

In addition to Eminem, the 2020 Oscar ceremony featured performances from Elton John, Idina Menzel, Chrissy Metz, Billie Eilish, Janelle Monae, and more.

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